Sleep Training: Mom and Dad are learning too

Well, after a great start to our sleep training, we have now had a couple much bumpier days/nights. We’re only a week and a half in, so of course I can’t expect everything to be going perfectly smoothly yet, but why does it have to feel so hard at times? It is obvious that while Lewis is busy learning calm himself and fall asleep without so much help from Mommy, Chris and I are also learning a lot on our end.

I think the biggest thing I have learned so far is that I really need to be consistent. I need to set down rules/plans and stick to them. I knew that this whole venture was going to be hard on me. I love the sweet snuggles of holding my sleeping baby for a nap, and I also hate to hear him cry. There have been a few times since we started this when I have given in to the temptation of letting him nap on me on the couch. I also have not been the most consistent in how long I will let him cry, sometimes going to get him after just 5 minutes and other times waiting the 15 that Chris and I had agreed on. I know that my inconsistencies are only making this harder on him, and I need to be firm with myself as well as with him. If I do things differently each time he isn’t going to know what to expect, he will only be more confused and upset. If I can keep myself consistent in how I handle things he will be better able to relax and feel secure knowing what is happening.

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The hardest part for me is not letting my emotions get in the way of what I know is best for all of us. For all six months of his life I have been trying my hardest to keep him happy and protect him from any hurt or sadness. I hate to hear him cry and my habit is to try to soothe him as soon as I hear the first whimpers. But of course he needs to learn to soothe himself as well. Mommy won’t always be there to shield him from everything. He also needs to learn to trust himself and to feel strong and capable. If I always step in before he even has a chance to try on his own then he will learn to always expect someone else to do things for him, and he won’t have a chance to learn his own abilities.

Last night he cried quite a bit at bedtime, similar to how he had cried on our first night of this. It feels so cruel just to let him cry like that, and both times I was in tears too. But both times Chris helped me to stay strong and stick to our plans, and both times Lewis proved how capable he is by calming himself within our set 15 minutes and eventually getting to sleep on his own. I expected to possibly be up a lot in the night after the rough start, but he wasn’t up any more than normal, and at one point in the night I even heard him wake up, make a little noise, and settle himself back to sleep.

Nap time today has been a struggle, but again I think that more consistency from me would have helped. The past two days we have somehow slept in to 10:30, when our “normal” wake-up time is between 8:30 and 9:30. Of course he is going to have a hard time getting sleepy for napping when he had all that extra sleep in the morning. I tried to move nap time later in the day, and thought he was tired enough, but I guess that is one more area where I am still learning. When he was falling asleep on me for his naps he basically just got to fall asleep whenever he wanted. Now it is up to me to learn to read his cues (yawning, rubbing eyes, etc.) and judge when he is ready to go relax in his crib for a nap.

There are definitely some ups and downs to navigate and we each have our lessons to learn, but I trust that this will continue to get easier the more we practice and work together.

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